Season 1
45 Minutes

Ep. 26 | Malissa Smith | How Boxing Uncaged Me

Malissa Smith, 67, is a retired civil servant who served as the Agency Chief Contracting Officer for the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. An amateur boxer, Malissa trains at the world-famous Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. Malissa wrote A History of Women’s Boxing, the definitive history of female boxers.

Malissa is a Founding Board Member of The International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame and a member of the Women’s Boxing Rating Committee, Ring Magazine. Her FOURTH ACT includes her own continued boxing, more writing, and becoming a caretaker for her husband who lives with dementia.

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Achim Nowak  00:03

Hey, this is Achim NOwak, executive coach and host of the my fourth act podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your Fourth Act? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected Fourth Acts, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started.  I am just so happy to welcome Malissa Smith to the My fourth act podcast. Malissa is a retired civil servant and an amateur boxer. She wrote the book A history of Women’s boxing, the only history of female boxers and maintains a popular blog girl boxing about this sport at the age of 67. Malissa continues to go to the famous Gleason’s gym on the Brooklyn waterfront, most mornings and boxes. I so look forward to my conversation with you, Malissa, welcome.

Malissa Smith  01:15

Oh, thank you so much for came I’m so thrilled to do this with you.

Achim Nowak  01:20

I am as well. And for our listeners full disclosure, Malissa and I met about 25 years ago in the 1990s in Manhattan, when we were both in a writers group and starting to write and we’re both writers, you know from the introduction that Malissa has published an awesome book. But the reason I wanted wanted to speak with you, I was so struck that when you were in your 40s, you made some really bold life choices. And we’re both pretty much the same age now I’m I’m 66 to 67. And it’s interesting to look at what we are creating at this stage in our lives. So let’s jump in. Okay, absolutely. Thank you. Now, when you were a young girl or a teenager, like what were your dreams or fantasies about what you wanted to do when you grew up?

Malissa Smith  02:15

I think that probably wanderlust is the best description. From a very young age, my dad always read to me and to my brother when we were very small. And when he was working his way through Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, I was in absolute fascination, I wanted to be on that road. I wanted to know all of those strange and wonderful characters. I wanted to go to places like Constantinople and Jerusalem. And then the my favorite books were things like the Arabian Nights, and I would plow through that and imagine myself on the, you know, in desert sands and have genies done flying carpets, which, of course, you know, as we know, is the reality of what those lives are like. But for me, as a child, they weren’t they held fascination. And so I wanted that kind of exploration in life, I wanted to go to places where I would be strange, just as strange as the people that I would be encountering. When one other experience really stands out. I think it was about nine. And my dad was had some friends who were going to Australia by freighter, and he took me along to their party in the state. And that was probably one of the most exciting days of my life is being in that state room, overcrowded with people, champagne bottles, being you know, uncorked, and such joy. And all I could think about was, that could be me, I could be on that road, I could find some really strange landscapes and enjoy the world through eyes that I had never really thought about. So I think that’s it.

Achim Nowak  04:08

Well, I hear I hear the seduction and the lure of adventure. And give us this wonderful word explore, as you’re talking about this, and, and one of the gifts of the fourth act conversations. And our fourth act is that if we dare we can continue to explore and even though adventure may have a different meaning, you know, as we get older, I want to go right to the time when we met when we were both in early 40s. But I I wouldn’t be remiss by not at least mentioning in light of what you just said that part of your adventurous streak did take you to Russia, didn’t it? And you did some work in the peace work and Peace Corps. Is that correct?

Malissa Smith  04:48

If that is correct. I was actually in the first class of Peace Corps volunteers to go to the Russian Far East. You know the the Russian Russia was created in the The Russian Federation began life in December of 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, and I was in country in November of 92. And those were extraordinary experiences, being sort of, on a frontier, if you will, at a time of sort of national tragedy, if you will, kind of being in a place which was going through a collective nervous breakdown, everything that everyone had believed in, no longer existed, and they had to kind of find their way into existence. And being there at that time, was extraordinarily humbling. But it also gave me an opportunity to travel in the region. So I spent a lot of time traveling all around Asia. And, you know, scratched if you will, that lifelong desire for, for travel and for being in different landscapes and places. But it also gave me remarkable opportunities to touch the lives of other human beings and to see how much we were really all the same, and that our struggles are always very similar kinds of struggles.

Achim Nowak  06:07

Could you give us a specific example of touching the lives of another person I know when we travel, there are so many encounters, and it’s hard to pick one. But if one were to jump out,

Malissa Smith  06:19

I was traveling through China by myself in 1992. And I had heard that there was a place in what’s called Inner Mongolia at that time, which is a state women, China, where you could go see the Ganga is calm Muslim, and I’m, like I have to go. It was quite an arduous journey by train and bus. And one of the things that I had read about is that among the Chinese tribal folks from that region, there was the burgeoning of sort of a religious movement, in celebration of their relationship to Ganga as calm as Mongolian. And so when I arrived in in this part of China, and was waiting for the bus to take me to the town with dangerous cartomizer, there was a man looked at me rather furtively, and then started bowing in prayer with his hands up and sort of just these quick bows, then he would look dark eyes with dark right arts with dark left, and somehow between my non existing Chinese and his non existent English, I figured out that he was a pilgrim, and that he wanted to connect with me to have this truth or to be able to express this moment of his own pilgrimage. Now, I was a pilgrim of sorts, and then I’m on this travel mode. But he wanted to touch me with his religiosity, because he felt the freedom to be able to do that and part I guess, because there I was the lone Caucasian woman in a sea of Chinese people. But that really filled me and when I went to into the gang, this con was a whim, I, I noticed that there were oranges and bottles of liquor and all these gifts that people would leave this kind of exposure. And touchstone with me really affected me, it’s affects me to this day, and it lets me understand that our humanity is something that we always carry, we just sometimes have to allow ourselves to be poked into what that really means.

Achim Nowak  08:37

I have traveled a lot myself, I had a traveling childhood and, and you just invoked in me the power of connection and different kinds of connection, and how it can happen in unexpected and unlikely places. And obviously, since we’re both writers that the metaphor of being a pilgrim and a seeker is beautiful, you know, for all of our journeys in life. I want to go to when I first met you, because you had just started boxing, and I’m gonna throw out the stereotypes. Now boxing we think of as a rough man sport. And our listeners already know that you are very much involved in championing the role of female boxers, through your writing and through other professional involvements. What, what in you wanted to do some boxing, where did that come from?

Malissa Smith  09:32

Well, you know, I, I think I always liked when I was a little kid, I grew up the time of Muhammad Ali. And, you know, was, I was always very taken with him as a figure. And I just liked it. I don’t know why I just always did. I like watching it. And when I was about 12, I had an uncle who was showing my brother and I had to do the old one to know The proudest I could ever be was at the fact that I actually knew how to turn jab, which is that you, you kind of start with your hand on your side, and then you throw it out and you twist it so that it’s nice and straight. And the fact that I could actually do that sustained me for decades, I would sometimes just sit there and just throw a one, two and feel so proud of myself, but it was ridiculous. But what I never was able to do was to make that leap to understand that me is gender female, that I could always have practiced boxing, I could always have performed it. And it took me really till the time I met you in the in the mid 90s. To understand that, yeah, I can, I can go into a boxing gym and hit a boxing bag. And that was enormously freeing for me. And those first months, when I boxed I would, I would do my exercises, I had a trainer, I would do all my rounds. And I would end up with tears streaming down my eyes, people looked at me like I was out of my freakin mind. But what he didn’t understand was how freeing this felt. Because I could assert my own physicality and my own physical strength. And the boxing was a metaphor for that. But that ability to really uncage one’s own power. And I think women, especially women, in our generation, good girls always contain their emotions always contain their feelings would never, ever, ever be angry or express any kind of physical power. So being able to then do that was a remarkably freeing experience, and really unlocked so much for myself. And even as I became a mother in my late 40s, it allowed me to be able to transfer some of that to my own female child, so that I would never hold her back or restrain her physical sense of being.

Achim Nowak  12:15

I loved when love that phrase, uncage yourself that you used and, and the fact that you gave yourself permission to uncage yourself in your 40s in many ways, you just mentioned becoming a late mother. We’re going to talk some more about writing. All of these were emergences in your life in your 40s which is friggin awesome. Did you start off going was Gleason’s gym, the gym that you went to for boxing? When you started a weird physically? Where did you start?

Malissa Smith  12:46

I think my first my first gym was like the local health club that had a guy who taught boxing. And I went to that, and it was not particularly satisfying. It was a class there were about 10 people I was the least experienced. He had zero patience for me. I mean, I had no idea what wrapping your hands were anything else. And we had to do these exercises. And I was really bad. I thought, Oh, this is faster. But I had always heard of Gleason’s gym and I was like, damn it. It’s in my it’s in Brooklyn. I’m living in Brooklyn. Now I am going and that when I at that time, it was up on the second floor of an industrial building in Dumbo. Before Dumbo was Dumbo. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  13:35

For our international listeners. Dumbo is a very trendy, fashionable part of Brooklyn, but it wasn’t always.

Malissa Smith  13:43

It’s not always It was a very industrial space. And climbing those stairs and coming into this cavernous gymnasium with four rings and, you know, dust on the dust. It was quite a sight. And of course, there’s never any air conditioning in a boxing gym. But coming in, I really felt like I had crossed a divide. And in doing that alone, I had shown myself that I could really become what it was I was seeking. And then, you know, I wandered around, I met the owner of the gym who really embraced me and and I will say that Gleason’s in particular is a gym that has always, since the early 80s provided a safe, safe, safe space a safe haven for women to practice the sport. So I immediately felt very embraced. I started working with the train trainer and the affirmation of that and the encouragement of all the denizens of the gym who would you know, come with some regularity. We’ll see you go Hey, champ, how are you? Great See you again. Know that it just felt normal and natural and wonderful.

Achim Nowak  15:00

What I heard I love the phrase denizens of the gym, you you became one of the denizens you are part of the club in my mind, and I’m not a boxer at all, but even in my mind Gleason’s is an almost legendary boxing gym. Can you just tell us a little bit about the history so we can appreciate what you stepped into when you walked through those doors?

Malissa Smith  15:25

Sure, Gleason’s gym was originally a gym established in the Bronx in the 1930s. It was sort of in the heyday of box of like neighborhood boxing, literally, you could go through a 10 block radius and have two or three clubs. But Gleason’s quickly became a place of champions. And whether it’s folks, young kids who were competing to fight in what’s called the Golden Gloves, which in the United States was this sort of amateur boxing process, the championship that will then allow you to have entree to the professional ranks. And then eventually, it lost its space in the Bronx, and it was on West 30th street right around the corner from Madison Square Garden. So it had a very storied existence there. Any boxer who was going to fight at the garden, would spend their last week of training camp at Gleason’s gym. So it had people like a Muhammad Ali would go there to trade. So it had a real sense of being a part of the texture and fabric of boxing itself. From the standpoint of women in the sport, it was really the first gym in New York City to embrace and encourage women to come into the gym. The owner Glade used to say that in the early 80s, there was in the late 70s, early 80s, there were certainly a lot of financial woes in the gymnasium. They said, Well, why are we excluding half the population? Let’s start. So they because they only had one bathroom, they would have women’s nights, they would close the gym met, and they would just have women. And some of those women there are still involved in the sport woman named sparkle Lee, who was the first ref professional referee in New York State, she started in their program woman named Jackie Atkins, who’s a legendary trainer in the New Jersey sports world runs a gymnasium than South New Jersey. So it had real power and, and it radiated out if you will, across the country. Yeah. And then when, when the gym moved, finally, it lost its space in Manhattan and moved across the river in Auckland. The big thing that person system was building, women’s locker room as well as events. So right from the beginning, women were always welcomed and there was no longer a women’s night. Just everybody fought for

Achim Nowak  18:03

word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast, fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. At the same time, because we met in a writers group, you were nurturing your writing side, and so many people that I know and you probably know say, Oh, I have a book in me why I want to write something or always wanted to tell this story. And it’s easier and easier to do it these days with self publishing and blogs and all those things but but many people still don’t do it. So what what drew you to writing to wanting to write to what did you want to write about at that time in your life?

Malissa Smith  19:10

Well, I think writing to me was always wrapped up in travel and and in documenting the world. So at the time that I met you, I was very engaged in creative nonfiction memoir writing, sort of to try to tell the story of the places I’d see. And, and also the that the interior journey that happens as part of those experiences. You know, I always say that I had one life till I was around 40. And then I developed the second life. And I wanted to tease out for myself through writing that renewal process that that rebirth, if you will, and it led to, you know, publishing stories and journals and poems. I never quite got a book completed through that early process. But writing as a practice, became part of my everyday world. So that later, when I was offered an opportunity to write a book on the history of Women’s boxing, I really understood the craft.

Achim Nowak  20:23

I like your description of the craft of writing, Malissa, I’m just thinking it must not be that dissimilar from the practice of boxing and the repetition in boxing and what our bodies learn in boxing and what in turn, we, we learn about ourselves through the act of boxing, I just want to make this point, you met your husband, Jared, you had a daughter at the same time, late in life. And somewhere around there, you decide to go back to school. And, and I know that writing the book, the beautiful part, and I’m stressing this because sometimes we as a culture where we’re taught to be so goal driven, and my sense of your journey as you pursued a bunch of things, and at some point, the dots connected. Is that an appropriate way to describe your journey?

Malissa Smith  21:19

I would say that that’s absolutely the case. And interestingly, my, my career kind of ended in the same way, because my career as a civil servant ended with me becoming believe that of false things a procurement expert now, procurement. What is that? Could you

Achim Nowak  21:41

could you shamelessly mentioned your last title and where you did this in New York. Like everybody has you, you. Many people in government start in their 20s. And you started way later.

Malissa Smith  21:53

So I started in government at 52 as a procurement analyst. And in my last job, I was the assistant commissioner, agency chief Contracting Officer at Housing Preservation and development, which is the largest housing agency in the United States of municipal housing agency in the United States. My career was in two different agencies. I started my career at the fire department, and then went to Housing Preservation and development, which, you know, like, if one one land was gonna land and in civil servant Heaven, those are the two places to go, I raise it because it became a culmination of all the jobs I ever had in my life. I’ve done television production, I’ve been a construction manager, I was an IT executive for 15 years, all of those things came together as a procurement person, because I understood the world of the vendor, I understood the, the, the need for procurement folks to have expertise in those areas so they could blend what it is to procure, and all of the rules and regulations of the city government, which is insanely like, you know, Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire all meshed together. And explain that to folks who need whatever it is they need, don’t know how to get there. And also help them understand what it is they really want to buy. So it was a very challenging, very fascinating career, to suddenly find myself in and then really run with, but like, boxing, like writing, you have to always call on all of these other experiences in your life. Because if you’re in a ring, and you’re sparring with someone, and you’re not really present, you’re gonna get clocked and you’re gonna end up on the ground and it’s gonna hurt. You have to be on your game, you have to be kind of in tune with yourself. The same thing when you’re, you know, have a budget of $150 million to buy fireboats It better be right. Because it’s the people’s money. So, for me, the way my life unfolded, that did feel sometimes chaotic, but that, that transition into my 40s, of sort of saying, you know what, I’m renewing myself, and that renewal is going to be a dedication to being true to who I am as a human being. And by doing that, I then tease out all the things that were really important. And by having those things in my mind, anything after that work, relationship, and marriage, being a mother, none of those things ever felt as if they were taking away from myself. They were only adding to myself. And that’s One of the things I saw in other parents, you know, they feel annoyed by their children earlier. Okay? Sometimes Yeah, kids are annoying, but it doesn’t take away from yourself as a human being. And I think if I learned anything in that process of what brought me to say, yeah, you know what, I can go back to school and get a master’s degree, and that study business, but study what I like Liberal Studies. Doing that was all added, because I felt secure enough in myself to be able to add that in. And by adding that in, I was adding to everything else in my world. And like, Yeah, sometimes I’m tired or busy. But that process really brought me to the understanding that my life was limitless, even though we’re in limited space and time, that one can always continue to grow, continue to explore, continued to be that traveler in life, and to embrace it positively. And to understand whatever the obstacles are, even if it’s a lousy pandemic, COVID year, you can continue and work your way through it.

Achim Nowak  26:12

And your life is really an embodiment of all of that stuff that you just said, I, I introduced you as an amateur boxer. And my sense is, I don’t want to test this. Now I want to give you a chance to do a deeper dive into boxing is that when you were asked to write the book on, you know, the women’s history of boxing. My sense is that in that sense, it professionalized you as an authority in the field. And you’re active in, in a very professional way, not as a competitive boxer. But in other ways in the boxing industry right now in ways that I find really cool. Could you just walk us into that?

Malissa Smith  26:57

Absolutely. I went back to get my master’s degree, I was 5657, something like that. And I ended up deciding to do my thesis on my I had an interest in boundaries and borders. And when I started it, I had come in with a background history. So I had an undergraduate degree in history. So I really thought I would look at things like nationalities and the first year of my work I did, I did lots of research on things like the Ottoman Empire and, and the Byzantium and Greek nationalism is three layers in the same location. And I was very fascinated with that. But as part of my program, I really wanted to experience boundaries, or explore boundaries across many different constructs. And one of the things I looked at was boundaries, from the perspective of taboos really kind of looking at it from the mythological perspective, and read Mary Douglas, who is a real authority on taboos in the field. And in doing that, just like wait a minute, boxing dot? What’s the case for women in a sport? Where it’s a taboo? Yeah, how do I tease out that as going beyond the boundary? So I totally retooled what I was doing. And I ended up writing a thesis on called Women in motion and using the case of Women’s boxing, to see how it defies boundaries. And the boundary there is the gender binary, and what does a gender binary really. So I tease that out, as I said, as part of my thesis, and then was starting to give papers and things like the popular culture symposium in the sports group, and that was approached by a publisher to say, Hey, we’re looking to do titles on women’s box, the UNSC, women’s sports like I’m there. So, I did develop the book, a history of Women’s boxing, which is, in fact, the first and spent two years really teasing that out. And as part of that process, I immersed myself in the history of the sport, but much more so in sort of the, the, what we call modern Women’s boxing, which started somewhere in the 1970s, coinciding with the feminist movement, and a really fascinating history to tease out. So, by the time the book was published, I had to review and bring magazine which always called itself, the Bible of boxing. And the reviewer called my book The Bible of Women’s boxing, and that was probably the proudest day.

Achim Nowak  30:05

Nice, nice.

Malissa Smith  30:08

Since then, yeah, I write about boxing, Women’s boxing, I tweet about it, I do all the social media stuff. But I also am called on on the radio on different sports podcasts, and have become involved in a few organizations. One is the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame. We started that in 2014. It was kind of awards of our own, if you will, and I’m on board with that organization. And we will in fact, the meeting this coming weekend, bestowing our 2020 and 2021 Awards in Las Vegas. So that’s very exciting. I’ve also now among the ratings committee with ring magazine itself with nine other historians and other boxing experts and professionals and we rank Women’s boxing fighters. That’s been since 2020 was the first year to really start that which is an enormous milestone for the sport. I also am involved with the Boxing Hall of Fame up in Canada stood in New York, I’m on their selection committee, they also began to give induct women into their Hall of Fame starting in 2020. Very, very, very big deal. And so I feel incredibly proud to be a part of that, but also to continuously represent the women who contest the sport, whether they’re amateurs or professional, and I really feel such dedication to that, because these women really work so hard for so little, and are deserving of our attention our time and our respect.

Achim Nowak  31:55

You said that so humbly. But what I was thinking is you’re really you’re really an active force in helping shape professional women box Women’s boxing, and and sort of the way women’s boxes are honored, you know, acknowledged, celebrated and you’re actively championing that, right?

Malissa Smith  32:19

Yeah, that’s true. Yes, you are. Yes, I are. Yes, absolutely. And, you know, one of the great things about Gleason’s gym is that I trained alongside champions. In fact, one of the women we’re honoring this weekend, a boxer named Alicia Ashley, who literally was winning championships till she was 50. Talk about second acts or fourth acts, we are honoring her and I couldn’t be prouder than to be able to read her name this weekend, because she is someone who was so inspired me, you know, plodding along in my Saturday box or togs trying so hard to learn as I watch her perform the sport. So I feel this real personal connection, because I know their stories, I interviewed them i, i champion them as best I can, in my limited fashion. And so being able to continue to assert my authority as a historian and then grow that relationship to the sport and my own knowledge of the sport, and my own sense of how it needs to move, what the things, the kinds of things that have to happen for it to really move forward in a positive way for the women who contested such as things like pay equity and equal representation on fight cards. There’s all sorts of little ins and outs that I’m really trying to champion as best I can and working with my colleagues, whether it’s sports writers or other folks who really expend a lot of time and energy in promoting women’s sports. So I feel very proud to be part of that very small group.

Achim Nowak  34:11

Now, I know that you retired from the New York New York City job this January. So you’re officially retired from regular full time work. I know you’re going to you’re exploring more writing. I know you still work at a Gleason’s gym. But my thoughts also go to your husband, Jed, because I wrote when I first met you and this is wrong, please correct me. My memory is that you and Jed picked each other up in a bar, is that correct? That’s right. If you’ve asked now what you made, it’s a classic Manhattan story. You’re each other up in a bar. You’ve had a daughter Your daughter is in college or just graduating from college and your husband has dementia And I’m moved by that because life is complex. And we all juggle multiple facets. Give us a sense of what it’s like to, to adapt to, in some ways taking care of your husband and how their relationship has changed.

Malissa Smith  35:24

Well, yes, you’re right, he, we pick each other up at the bar. Remarkably joyous figure. But the kind of guy who would jump into a kayak and circumnavigate Manhattan at night and write about it, he was a writer and editor at the New York Times at the time, he retired about 10 years ago now. And shortly after his retirement, we began to notice certain changes, although couldn’t quite put our name to it. But then about four years ago, he was formally diagnosed as having a form of dementia called frontotemporal degeneration, which is quite different than Alzheimer’s ends up unfortunately, in the same space, but its presentation is more behavioral than memory based. And for Jed, it has meant that he has lost empathy, his effect has changed. His sense of, of omnipotence, can be quite dangerous at times. But more to the point. Now that we’re sort of, we think, probably 10 years in, although, again, formally diagnosed for years, and his short term memory is starting to become really challenged. So during the pandemic year, I was still working from home starting in March of 2020. And being at home all day, every day, they led me to understand just how far things had slipped. Because no one one was working full time you come home, is the person at home for a few hours, don’t necessarily notice all of the minute behaviors. But being home all day, every day did. So I had already done things such as join a caregiver group to give me support, I had found different groups to engage him with, although he’s part of the one of the hallmarks for him is a lack his inability to really socialize many more, he finds it enormously difficult to communicate with people, it’s hard to have too much noise, it’s even difficult for him to be in the same room with my daughter at night, same time, because he gets he’s overloaded and bombarded with stimulus. So recognizing all that I part of my that calculus of formally retiring from full time every day work was the understanding that I was needed at home, that it’s time to lean in, to where he is in his life, to give him the best life possible for whatever time he has remaining. And that is, means recognizing what he can and cannot do, which changes day to day. Because sometimes it’s a really good day. And we’ll go out and have a lovely walk. And he’ll be extraordinarily observational and fine quarters on the street. Talk to me about the birds, all the other little things that he’s used, let’s say walking through a park, and on other days, he just wants to get back home. From the standpoint of your question I came about, what does it do to your relationship? It’s heartbreaking. Because it’s almost like mourning in life the way Yeah, because you’re watching a person slip away from themselves. And there are those moments of recognition that you have. And they’ll just be like, shoot me. And it’s heartbreaking. Yeah. What I’ve also seen no is his adaptation. She’s truly living in the moment. All of us have this sort of being here. Now. You know, when I went to Buddhist school is Thailand. And I came I’m just like, be here now. Like, I never really quite got it. But I get it now. Be Here Now for him means I’m just here I’m hungry. For I forgot I was hungry, but I’m ready. It’s it’s kind of this mindset that keeps him joyful. Because if he starts to ruminate about the future, you can’t get there. It’s enormous. too painful and becomes painful for me. Because how we forecast the future becomes impossible, but doesn’t mean that we don’t fantasize about dreaming. Like, we’re gonna hike the world, we’re gonna hike and walk across England and he has all these hiking boats. So this is a man who circumnavigated the matter, one. So he, he remembers all of that. But there’s also the reality that, no, we really can’t hike the entire whales trail, not going to happen, because he’s gotten to the point where we really can’t kind of walk down four or five blocks without even getting out of breath. So that reality hits me in the face sometimes, and it’s overwhelming. But then I take a deep breath. And I say, No, be here now. Prepare for the future. But the things I need in place, put the processes that I need for myself to be able to, to be his caregiver, and then let it go, just be enjoy what time there is, because I just don’t know what that next story is going to look like.

Achim Nowak  41:19

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into that adjustment in your life. And when you said just let it go and enjoy what is which sounds so friggin obvious. But it’s not always easy to do. That might be a perfect segue to the question I asked in every podcast. So when, based on what you know, now, as a 67 year old woman who in her 40s sort of bust out and renewed herself in many different ways. If you could whisper some words of wisdom into into your younger version, what would you want her to know, young girl teenager? What would you say to Malissa?

Malissa Smith  42:07

I would say, Stop being frightened. You know, the anticipation is always much harder than the actual reality. And sometimes just you just have to put one foot in front of the other. And I guess that’s sounds obvious. But it’s a very difficult thing to do. Now, because it means one has to trust oneself. Yeah. And I think that’s a very, very hard thing to do. At least it was for me, it took me a long time to trust that I could have the right instinct. And that moving, wherever I was going to go, it was going to be the right thing to do. That if, if my intention was true, if my heart was true, I was being honest with myself, it was going to work out. So I think that’s probably the best advice I could give. That’s

Achim Nowak  43:06

beautiful advice. As I get ready to say goodbye to you if if our listeners want to learn more about you what you’re doing. You already mentioned, you’re very active on social media. Where would you like to direct folks?

Malissa Smith  43:21

Well, I guess I have a Twitter and an Instagram account @girlboxingnow, which is probably best I do have a blog, not as active as is as it has been, but it will become active again. Those are probably the three best places to go. And I just want to thank you I think this series because people lose sight of the fact that we never stop that we are always becoming we may not agree with it. We may not acknowledge it, I guess. Yeah. But we really always are. And it’s important to realize that never despair about it. It just is whatever that trauma is in the road. Whatever that fork is, you’ll get just be true into it and you’ll be alright.

Achim Nowak  44:15

I agree. And I as we say goodbye. I know you’re heading to Las Vegas tomorrow. So I wish you a fantastic journey in the company of powerful women boxers. That sounds really great.

Malissa Smith  44:30

Thank you so much. I came and thank you again for having me on this wonderful program by by things

Achim Nowak  44:40

like what you’re heard, please go to my fourth act COMM And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us, give us a review and let us all create some mad recalled fourth acts together. Ciao


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